The top US wireless carriers include Verizon Communications (VZ), AT&T (T), T-Mobile (TMUS), and Sprint (S). The prepaid market remains highly competitive but still represents a sizable opportunity for adding customers.
AT&T’s Cricket and AT&T Prepaid brands, Sprint’s Boost and Virgin Mobile brands, Verizon’s TracFone brand, and T-Mobile’s MetroPCS brand compete directly in the prepaid segment.
Prepaid net additions in 2017
On a YoY (year-over-year), AT&T’s prepaid customers in the combined domestic wireless component grew by a significant ~16.1%, reaching 15.1 million by the end of 3Q17. During the first nine months of 2017, the carrier had net prepaid additions of 873,000 in these operations.
Meanwhile, Verizon’s prepaid subscribers rose ~2.4% YoY to 5.6 million by the end of 3Q17. On a net basis, the carrier added 141,000 prepaid customers in the first nine months of 2017.
T-Mobile and Sprint
T-Mobile’s prepaid customers grew ~6.5% YoY to 20.5 million by the end of 3Q17. During the first nine months of 2017, the carrier added 706,000 prepaid customers on a net basis.
Sprint’s prepaid customers fell ~14.0% YoY to reach 8.8 million by the end of 3Q17. During the first two months of fiscal 2017 (ended March 2018), the carrier added 130,000 prepaid customers on a net basis.
Remember, the costs associated with prepaid customers are much lower than the expenses associated with postpaid customers, which makes them more profitable. Acquisition expenses, maintenance expenses, and upfront expenses are all lower for prepaid customers.